A new study has revealed that lower levels of lipoproteins (HDL), otherwise known as 'good' cholesterol and high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid acquired mostly from eating meat, makes it harder for stroke patients to recover.
According to the study, higher levels of homocysteine and lower levels of 'good' cholesterol put people at an increased risk of memory problems and greater disability after stroke. "These findings show metabolic stress plays a significant role in stroke recovery," said study author George C. Newman, MD, PhD, with Albert Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia, PA, and member of the American Academy of Neurology.
The study enrolled 3,680 men and women over age 35 in the U.S., Canada, and Scotland who had suffered a mild to moderate stroke within the past three months. The participants underwent cognitive and disability tests and were followed for two years.
It was found that several factors predicted memory and disability problems after stroke: increased age, non-Caucasian race, recurrent stroke, diabetes, stroke in the left hemisphere of the brain, higher levels of homocysteine and lower levels of HDL.
"People with low levels of HDL, high levels of homocysteine, and diabetes are twice as likely as those without such problems to have poorer cognitive function and greater disability after stroke," Newman said.
"The study also found stroke recovery was the most difficult for people over the age of 57 with high levels of homocysteine, which is a risk factor for heart problems and associated with low levels of vitamin B6, B12, folic acid and kidney disease," he added.
He said that it's not clear why these factors are contributing to a slower stroke recovery and more research is needed. "We need to focus our attention on identifying and treating these vascular risk factors since they can be modified," he added.
The findings are published in the November 27, 2007, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.